Sorry for the Convenience

12:36 PM

"I haven't seen you in a while."

It's one of those benign statements that drives me up a wall.

Behind this seemingly innocent remark is what they're really saying to me.

"You owe me an explanation."

I thought maybe I was being too sensitive to assume that was the real meaning, until I started explaining my illness and watching people's expressions. They instantly transformed from an air of condescension and patronizing to empathy and understanding.

And the people I didn't explain my "chronic pain condition" to? Well, they probably still think I'm a flaky, lazy piece of crap.

I honestly don't like to explain my illness to people, especially those I don't know well. I generally don't feel like people owe others explanations. And I hate to make people think I'm just making excuses when what I'm really doing is hanging out in pajamas all day, watching TV and not being a productive member of society.


But the thing is, I'm skipping out on your social events not just because it's easier on me. It's easier on you, too.

As I've said before, chronic illness has probably one good feature and one good feature only. You become very aware of your body's warning signs and needs. I typically know when I wake up if I'm going to have a bad pain day. Or if I'm going to be in a mental fog and unable to focus on the easiest of tasks. Or if I'm going to fall asleep sitting up while you're trying to talk to me.

(Hilarious aside: After I talked in my last blog post about my pain level being relatively low, it decided to shoot up and make my life difficult. Thanks, endo!)

So when I stay home, it's not because I don't want to be there. I really do. But it's honestly better if I'm not there, for everyone involved.

I've been in a lot of situations in which I've been unable to drive myself home because I was too sore, too exhausted, too nauseous or a combination of the three. There were a few times before my husband and I got married that he had to drive my car back to my apartment while his roommate followed in his own car. Or when I had to stay the night and then wake up super early to drive home and make it to work on time.

Or when I've been wide-eyed and silent during social events because I'm focusing all of my energy on hiding the fact that my body is about to implode upon itself.

I really don't want to put other people in a position where they have to take care of me. Or where I look vulnerable and sick. Or where someone has to pick me up off of the floor or help me walk because I finally pushed myself too far.

Unfortunately, chronic illness is often about prioritizing. So maybe I'll skip out on a four-hour social gathering or work from home so that I have the energy to exercise for an hour (which helps keep my symptoms at bay.) Or go grocery shopping. Or attend a work function. Or visit my parents.

Or so that I can see you later in the week because you really are a priority to me! Just maybe not as much of a priority as something else on a particular day.

If you see me too often, it might not mean I'm feeling better. It might mean I'm pushing myself too hard.

You might say, "Well, that's tough! Take some medication and toughen up." The irony is that I've already done both of those things, and this is where I'm at right now. There are days my medication just never kicks in, and I have to face the cards that I'm dealt.

Yes, I also think that's an unreasonably difficult way to live, which is why I'm fighting so hard for better treatment and a cure for endometriosis. If it bothers you, then you should join, too!

So when I finally have the energy to put on makeup, do my hair and get out the door, don't say "I haven't seen you in a while."

Say "I'm glad you're here."

Or "How are things going?"

Or just don't say anything and treat me like a normal person.

Because I'm trying really hard to do what's right for me and for the people and things I care about. And that includes you. 

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